OnSwipe redirect code

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Using IRC : The one place for answers to all questions

Encyclopedia is said to contain answers to almost all the questions, but many people are unaware of another place which is hell lot faster and much more lively than any encyclopedia. You find answer to almost any damn thing under the sky. Your doubts are cleared. You are not only given answers but also tools to find answers yourself and also techniques to learn and create such tools(only if you are proven worthy of it - which is really not a big thing).

This is Internet Relay Chat, better known as IRC.

You can use IRC through various networks hosted on few servers each having many channels. But few are as described above and those are networks dedicated for technical discussions and this post is about using such networks.

The very purpose of writing this post is the lack of knowledge of IRC amongst the majority of students in my engineering college. Students here can't get answers for their questions when the doubts arise, because of which the search for the solution is postponed and postponed things never actually happen. The doubt remains a doubt forever.

Apart from this, the exposure to Open source is very very bad. And in my opinion IRC would fill in this gap. So here are the details of using IRC (and a few tips).

A known analogy to understand what IRC is.

IRC is something similar to Yahoo Chat.

For using Y! chat you log on to the Yahoo server using a client, which is the Y! messenger. In a similar way for using IRC chat you need to log on to an IRC server using a client. But unlike Y! here you have a lot of clients available and you can choose(the open source power) any client that you want. Here is something that can help you.

Your Y! email-id is your identity on Y! chat. And here it will be your nickname. You will be noticed based on your nickname. So you choose a good one and maintain that same nick.

Just like you register the first time you login for Y! chat you got to register your nick. Its much simpler here. No form filling and such redundant stuff. Unless somebody has already picked up your nick you can start off using it right away. As it is obvious you will get a password which you will provide for further logins.

Once you login in Y! you would probably choose a chat room. Analogous to these chat rooms we have channels here. As you have channels like Hobbies, Romance, TeenChat we have channels like #C, #kernel, #slackware and many many more. There are channels for almost all of the open source stuff. You can choose any of the channels. You can be in multiple channels simultaneously. Channel discipline is very important. You discuss only C in #C, not even C++.

Once you are in a channel you will see the list of people who are in that channel just like you see the list of people in a chat room. Different clients provide this in different ways. Certain GUI based clients have a separate tab where as console based clients expect you to use a command to give you that list.

You can now start interacting with the people in the channel. Ask your questions and if it is a proper one and people there know the answers you will get instantaneous replies. You can have private chats also but that is not really encouraged as many others will lose the conversation that you will have. It might have been useful to someone else also and may be if there were errors a better person would have corrected you. (Its Open source.. remember that)

Thats for the analogy. Now about how to actually do all this.

1) Selecting a client.

The link above presents you with several clients. I would suggest these.

For Linux
Irssi - A console(text only) based client. It really does its job very well.
Kopete - The default KDE multi-protocol communication client. Its beautiful.
GAIM - A GUI client. For those who can't take their hands off of the mouse.
X-Chat- Ok to use.

For Windows

HydraIRC - A real good open source client. Has many features.

ChatZilla - A firefox extension. Its really cool man. The notifications are the best part of this one. This would be the best option unless you are command line freak, in which case you can use Irssi.

Download and install any one of these clients and run it.

2)Selecting a Network

As I said the developers (or the Gurus) are distributed across few useful ones amongst the several networks. Here they are.

Freenode - irc.freenode.net - The most comprehensive server. Encompasses almost everything.
Moznet - irc.mozilla.org - The mozilla developers network. One of the best place for web related stuff.
GimpNet - irc.gimp.org - As it says, for gimp related discussions.

To connect to any of these servers use this command

/server server name [port no [password nickname]]

Port no is generally 6667.
In IRC a statement starting with "/" is considered as a command.


So to join freenode network you would do this:

/connect irc.freenode.net 6667 password nickname

Initially you will not have a password so leave that and the nickname field empty. Your username will be taken up as your nickname. You can change that later. You will get a notification when you are connected and logged on.

On GUI based servers you can use the buttons and menus to connect. Like in HydraIRC you can press Ctrl+S to bring up a dialog to select server and enter your nick and password.

3) Registering your nickname

To register your nickname you have to contact a bot called NickServ (Nickname Server).
would tell you how to register.
You can change your nick using the "nick" command.
/nick new nick

For further logins you don't have to register, you just need to IDENTIFY yourself.
would tell you how to do that.

4) Joining a channel

To join a channel use this "join" command

/join #channel name

Every channel name starts with a '#'. So to join the C channel on the freenode server that you just logged on to you would do this.

/join ##c

There you are. You can start chatting or rather interacting.

Certain Tips:

1) Use English and proper English.
2) No slang or SMS type language.
3) Always google out your queries before asking it at IRC. They will help you only if you show to them you have indeed done some work. No spoon feeding.
4) Two most common abbreviations
--- STFW - Search the F*****g Web -- Means google it out.
--- RTFM - Read the F*****g Manual -- Read the man pages or related documentation.

When these are told, they really mean them. So watch out for these.

Thats it. Just go in and have fun.


  1. hi sir very less people know the power of this .I guess this will surely help them ... and provide a platform to develop ...

  2. Hello,
    How to start with an android source code.. As i am a developer..

    Need to program a simple calculator

    please any one assist me...

    -chandra d p